x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

McLeish: Birmingham missed Zigic's height in relegation fight

Alex McLeish's £6 million summer signing from Valencia resumed full training yesterday after a groin problem.

Birmingham City could have Nikola Zigic back fit for the climax of their struggle for Premier League survival.

Alex McLeish's £6 million (Dh36m) summer signing from Valencia resumed full training yesterday after a groin problem.

Zigic, the 6ft 8ins striker, has hardly played since scoring the opening goal in Birmingham's shock Carling Cup final win over Arsenal in February, but McLeish is hoping he can play some part against visiting Wolverhampton Wanderers today.

With the on-loan Obafemi Martins sidelined for the remainder of the season, Zigic's return will be a big boost for Birmingham. He took time to adjust to the top flight in England but the Serbia international was in fine form before the setback and had netted eight goals.

"We're trying to get Ziggy into the squad for the Wolves game," McLeish said.

"It depends on the training session and how he reacts. He's been training with the physio on his own and they've been putting him through his paces."

Added McLeish: "Listen, Ziggy was at the best form since he came to the club before the injury.

"In the Carling Cup final, he scored a goal and made a goal. In the semi-final against West Ham, he transformed the game for us.

"His form was that of a top centre-forward at the time.

"To lose him, at his peak, was difficult to swallow. We also miss him when defending set pieces sometimes. Depending on our personnel, we can be a small team.

"But then we have got players like Cameron Jerome, Kevin Phillips, Matt Derbyshire who are the sole surviving strikers and these are all terrific players in their own right."

Wolves are second bottom of the table. Their manager, Mick McCarthy, concedes that his side will struggle to attain the points needed for Premier League survival if they play like they did in the 3-0 defeat at Stoke City on Tuesday.

Said McCarthy: "Where do you win two games when you play like that on Tuesday night at Stoke?

"Once they scored, we were very, very poor. Everybody was feeling sore and smarting, hurt and upset, disappointed. We are going to have to play a sight better."


3pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 6